Up-Skilling Takes Creativity

Source: KQED Mindshift, Apr 2013

As artificial intelligence improves and slowly takes over aspects of daily life, the only way for people to continue to be useful is to “up-skill” — and that takes creativity. “Incremental creativity is just improving on something, but radical creativity is thinking something up,” Fadel said. He believes that, in time, computers will be capable of incremental creativity, slowly improving a process and building on its success. What they will never be able to do is generate a radically new idea.

Education has to focus on learning how to learn – metacognition. … School, he said, should focus on teaching young people the intangibles, the things that make humans unique: relationships, flexibility, humanity, how to make discriminating decisions, resilience, innovation, adaptability, wisdom, ethics, curiosity, how to ask good questions, synthesizing and integrating information, and of course, creating.

Sawyer says fostering creativity starts by recognizing that it’s a collaborative process, not one big idea from a genius. Rather, it’s more like improvisational theater. “Each person contributes a small idea or contribution and the next person picks it up and takes it somewhere,” Sawyer said. “It’s unpredictable and unplanned but something wonderful emerges.

Recognizing that much of the creative work generated comes out of collaborative group work, teachers can think about their classrooms as places for improvisational flow, where teachers and students are building knowledge together. Structure is needed, but some flexibility as well.

“The role of the educator is to channel and guide what is fundamentally an improvisational process,” Sawyer said. “Students learn what they need to learn but in a way that allows them to be creative.”

Sawyer proposes that schooling should be constructionist, focusing on a deeper, conceptual understanding of topics with the ability to build new knowledge in new situations. To do this, students need to take facts, skills, and concepts and apply them to real-word problems. Learning should start with a driving question. This way, students can explore the topic through inquiry and discussion, working in teams, just as they would in the workplace or other life situations. Students create a tangible product that addresses the issue at hand, and along the way an instructor guides the process.

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